The kids are not okay. In fact, the mental health crisis among American youths has become so acute during the COVID-19 pandemic that a coalition of pediatric health experts has declared it a national emergency.

In a joint statement released in October 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association — groups that represent more than 70,000 doctors nationwide — highlighted the serious toll that isolation, ongoing uncertainty, fear, and grief have taken on U.S. children and teens.

“The mental health of children and teens is at a critical tipping point,” says Lee Savio Beers, MD, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and medical director for community health and advocacy at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. “Child mental health issues were of great concern before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated them.”

When It Comes to Emotional Well-Being Among Kids, the Numbers Are Grim

Between March and October 2020, the percentage of emergency department visits for children with mental health emergencies rose by 24 percent for children 5 to 11 years old and by 31 percent for children and teens 12 to 17 years old, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (which are highlighted in the joint statement).